Kristen Miller's Archive

A Great Week!

3 Commentsby   |  06.07.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

June 7, 2011 – 9:45 a.m.

Wow! Our time here is just getting better and better…and busier as we go! This blog will cover an entire week from last Monday to yesterday Monday. Alright, so last Monday was Memorial Day so there was no school for the island. The interesting thing is that Memorial Day on the island means something different than in the states. Memorial Day seems to be a day when they remember ALL the dead. Not just soldiers who have passed. On Sunday, it was not unusual to see families cleaning their ancestors’ graves. One important thing to know is that there aren’t many graveyards here. It is cultural for the family to be buried on the family land…usually meaning directly in front of their house. It was quite interesting because I saw a family which I thought was washing their car. They had a bucket of soapy water, towels, and a water hose out. But then I realized the giant thing they were washing was a grave! They can be really big here! They don’t bury them under the ground like in the states, so it’s not just one gravestone. I think it is so interesting and really neat to see some of those cultural differences!

Monday morning we went to the store to find some material for puletasis. This is the traditional Samoan dress that I am SO excited to have! It actually worked out that we got enough material for me to have two puletasis, Dean have two shirts, and Danna gave me more material that I think I will get made into a dress. I’m pretty excited to see what it looks like when we pick it up this week!! We then went to the sewing shop to get measured and explain how I wanted my puletasi made. The lady making the puletasis seems to be wonderful! I can’t wait to see what she created!

Getting fitted for my puletasi.

Monday afternoon we went to Airport Beach for some real snorkeling. It was a short hike to get to the beach, but it was a beautiful one! We walked by the huge lava rocks that have blow holes in them to spray ocean water up at least 10 -15 feet! I wish I knew how big they can actually get! Snorkeling was beautiful! I saw so many neat fish and coral. There was one particular fish that would turn around and look straight at me, and then after a short staring contest it would turn away, but after a very short while, it came back for some more staring! Pretty funny. Dean and I saw 3 schools of fish. There was one that we could get pretty close to. I have no idea what kind of fish they were, but they moved amazingly together. It was really neat to see them all change directions at once! One of the other schools was some type of needle-nose fish. They swam right at the surface of the water in a line to travel to wherever they were going. At one point, I turned around to try to find Dean. I finally found him and started swimming towards him. Then I saw the needle-nose fish blocking my way to Dean. I know they would’ve moved if I started swimming, but I decided to just wait. Honestly, they looked a little scary to me.

The rest of the week really was pretty relaxing and calm until the weekend hit. Friday night we did another minute to win it game, but this one didn’t go nearly as well. It was funny to watch, and the kids had fun with it, but it didn’t stay very organized as the game continued. They had a pair of panty hose on their head with a baseball at the end of one leg. Then they had to walk while swinging the baseball until they knocked down the cups set out for them. It was really pretty funny!

Saturday was the best day we’ve had with the tweens. We had an obstacle course for one blindfolded person to walk through. The first two rounds, Steve was walking through while everyone was yelling incorrect directions. Ray was the only person telling him the correct directions. Pretty frustrating for Steve! Then we ended the activity with Ray walking through blindfolded while Dean was the only person talking giving him instructions. We then talked about how it is much easier to listen to God without other distractions and false teachings around you. Clear all the things to be able to clearly hear God. They really enjoyed it! We then continued the afternoon with worksheets about the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit. We ended with making a sword and shield and then cookies and a Capri Sun before leaving. It really was a great afternoon, and the kids really seem to enjoy it.

Dean with the Saturday Tweens.

Sunday morning was also the best class I’ve had! This week, we taught the 10 Plagues of Egypt. All I did was sing some songs with them, read the story, and then give them a small book of the 10 Plagues that they could color. I planned on letting them color in class, but the story ended up taking the entire time. They were so extremely interested in this story! First of all, they had no idea what some of the plagues were. They didn’t know the word for gnats, locusts, and boils. They are familiar with them, but it was interesting for Manda…the Samoan translator for my class. She worked with the kids to help them understand what they were. And the think that was most interesting to me is that I had to explain what hail was. I’m so used to teaching kids in Texas who for sure have had hail, but these kids have never seen hail on this island. It was really fun to see their faces when they realized what some of these plagues were. They were amazed by the story and I really feel like they will remember this story forever!

Yesterday we had lunch with the leaders of the youth camp (Camp Alofa….Camp Love) that will go on next week. The camp will be for 7th – 12th grade and will be from 10:00 – 6:00 every day with VBS being from 6:30 – 8:00. Dean and I are entirely in charge of VBS and we are group leaders/counselors for Camp Alofa. Let me just say that we will be quite busy this week with planning and preparing and extremely busy next week with full days of work. I am so pumped! This is the type of stuff I love doing!

This Thursday night, we will greet people at the airport who will be our guest speakers for Camp Alofa and Lectureship. (Lectureship is what the adults will be doing while the kids are at VBS.) I can’t wait to meet them, and I sure hope they’re able to get used to the humidity and time change more quickly than I am. They begin on Saturday with a cookout to welcome them to Samoa, and then preaching on Sunday and the busy week of next week.

It is sad how quickly this time here has already gone by. We have this week of planning, next week of VBS, a few days in Western Samoa the next week, and then we’ll be off to Hawaii for a few days. I can’t believe it’s already this close to the end! Oh well, we still have a BUNCH left to do with the kids…great. I’m going to get even closer to these wonderful children, and then I’m going to leave. Wonderful. L I do not look forward to leaving these wonderful people and the beautiful scenery!

Thank you everyone again who helped us get here! We are so extremely grateful to you, and there really is no way we’d be here without your help! I have been so blessed this trip already, and I know God will show me even more the rest of our time here! I have had a wonderful time so far…and I’m ready for the busyness. Let’s go continue planning!

Don’t forget to look at my Facebook. I have many more pictures on there than you will find on my blogs. Also read Dean’s blog! www.deanwillis.blogspot.com

Alofa, Kristen

A Week of Blessings and Surprises!

6 Commentsby   |  05.31.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

Sunday, May 29, 2011 – 9:56 p.m.

First of all, I apologize for taking so long to write. Boy, do I have a lot to share! Hang in there. This is going to be a long blog. I can already feel it. It has been a very busy weekend, but it sure was a great one! Really the main things I remember from last week (not the weekend) were eating lunch with Bill (one of the youth helpers at Tafuna Church) and snorkeling again with Dean. We went to eat lunch with Bill to get to know one another a little better and just spend some time talking. He will be one of the leaders of the youth day camp that will be happening the week of June 13th. He joined in on the attempt to try to make me eat “sashimi” which is a dish of raw fish and other things….but I say no thank you when I hear raw fish. I told Bill that I may possibly try it before I leave the island. I still don’t want to, but then I remember that Audrey (my sister) tried a caterpillar in Africa…maybe I should try it at least for her. Hmmmm…I’ll keep you updated.

This is just a special little something that some of you might want to look at. I know you will, Mommy. But do not get so sidetracked that you forget to come back to my blog and read the rest! J Click on the following link (or copy and paste into your address bar). http://www.sadieshotels.com/restaurants/goat-island-caf%C3%A9-sadie%E2%80%99s-sea It will take you to the website of the hotel and restaurant that I ate at for my Birthday, we ate at with Bill, and Dean and I swam in their bay area and swimming pool. On the webpage on the left side, you can click on the link giving you a sample of their menu: Goat Island Café Sample Menu

Okay this is a side note that I just must share. Dean and I have gone to a grocery store called KS Mart multiple times since we’ve been here. In the states, checkout lines have all those little items that the store hopes you buy, right? Things like batteries, small flashlights, remote controls, chap stick, and candy. Well, in one of the checkout lines at KS Mart, there are a BUNCH of BINGO cards. Dean said full BINGO tournaments happen often here. Right above the BINGO cards are a bunch of glass Coca-Cola bottles with something besides Coke in them. Definitely not Coke! It is something gross looking in a cloudy yellowish liquidy substance. And I must mention that it smells terrible!! We couldn’t figure out what it was, so we’ve always just kinda held our noses as we walked by and tried to forget about it. Well, just now I couldn’t remember what the raw fish dish was called, so I was doing all kinds of Google searches to try to figure it out. I came across a website with an explanation of some traditional Samoan foods, and the following picture was on the page. I saw it, and thought…hey! That’s what they sell at KS Mart! Well…I read the description: “Sea – This is a Samoan delicacy that is made from the innards of a sea slug. It is normally sold in coke bottles at the food market. For the bold of heart and strong of constitution only.” ….. I’ll just say that sashimi sure is sounding delicious right now.

Note: I did NOT take this picture. I just found it online, but this is the stuff that I was talking about.

Going on with our second snorkeling adventure. Dean and I went back to “Fatu ma Futi” the Flowerpot to snorkel. This time it was low tide, so I was able to go out further where the coral and fish were. The fish were amazing! We saw a HUGE starfish, beautiful little vibrant blue fish, sea cucumbers, and a sea urchin! Really really great. And…Dean just told me that sea cucumbers are also called sea slugs…which is what that nasty stuff in the Coke bottle was….GROSS! But…I wasn’t aware that you’re not supposed to touch the coral. Let me just say, “Ouch!!” I definitely got some cuts and scrapes, but I didn’t even know it until air hit the sores and then salt water again. I was able to get back to the house soon enough to clean them up really well. I keep hearing that there is poison in the coral. If you don’t take care of the cuts, they can easily get infected. I am fine from infection, but the poison didn’t stop it from burning for a few days. The best way I can explain it for the West Texas folks is to compare it to grass burrs or stickers. Whatever you may call them. They too have poison in them. Nothing that harms very seriously, but the poison sure causes a burn for a while after getting one stuck in your foot. So imagine being cut by a grass burr. The ugly dry kind that hurt. And it’s not just one cut, it’s a bunch on your fingers because that is how I stayed in one place while snorkeling. I grabbed onto the coral while the waves came in and out and moved me around. Anyway, I’m fine now, and I learned my lesson. I am thankful that it was the coral that got me instead of the sea urchin! Yikes!

*** INTERMISSION*** (If you’d like to go take a restroom break or get a drink of water, now is a good time. If you’d like to just continue reading, go for it. Just thought I’d give you the chance to do so. My blog seemed long enough to have an intermission, so here it is.)

Now to the weekend. Friday nights, we go to Nu’uuli Church of Christ for fellowship and worship with the youth from Nu’uuli and Tafuna. (youth is 7th grade and up) Dean and I had a game prepared for them. We once again took the idea from the TV gameshow called Minute to Win It. This specific game is called the Magic Carpet Ride. We brought rugs from the Willis’s house for the kids to sit on and inch-worm scoot their way across the finish lines for a relay race with teams. It was a blast, and Facebook really will have some great pictures once they are uploaded. We then continued with the routine of singing some songs, a lesson from David, and some good times. I met and re-met people. I have been able to remember some names, but I’m not where I’d like to be yet. It does seem like the kids are excited for the next week each time though.

Steve on the Magic Carpet! He seemed to have had fun with this game.

Steve on the Magic Carpet! He seemed to have had fun with this game.

Saturday is our time of teaching the Tweens. This is where we’re doing the Armor of God. This week we covered the Breastplate of Righteousness and the “Slippers” or the Shoes of Peace. In Samoa, they call flip flops slippers, so we also called them slippers. We played a couple of games with them, gave them some prizes, and fed them some hot dogs before they left. I definitely am beginning to feel more of a connection with some of them. There’s a specific one that I feel a strong connection with as of right now. Her name is Rosetta, and she is in 7th grade. I really would have guessed she was a Sophomore or Junior in high school by the way she acts and helps with some of the younger ones. She is a beautiful girl, and has a sweet spirit, and a contagious smile. I love going to Tafuna functions and looking for her wondering if she’s there.

Here is Dean helping kids make their Slippers of Peace.

Here I am helping kids make their Breastplates of Righteousness.

Sunday morning we taught our Bible classes: Dean with the tweens and me with the younger kids. We talked about Moses and the Burning Bush. It is truly amazing how much Samoans love to sing! I taught my class a song last week, and I wanted to sing it again a few weeks in a row to help them learn the new song. I started singing, and after literally the first 3 words (“Who made the…”) the kids took off singing. Not only did they remember the song, but they remembered the little bit of sign language that I taught them last week. One of the verses is “who made the turtle.” After we sing each verse, I ask the kids…”What else did God make?” As soon as she processed my question, little Omeka gave me the sign for turtle. It is so much fun to sing with these kids. I did record the reading of the Bible story. I read the story in English while my wonderful helper Aremenda translated into Samoan for the kids. I will do my best to upload the video on Facebook sometime this week, but it takes a while to upload the videos.

A great picture of me and Rosetta at church on Sunday morning. I really like her puletasi! (Traditional Samoan dress)

Tonight, we had a singing night at a church near Leone. It was wonderful to hear such great singing in English and in Samoan. The kids were all sitting on the floor in the front, and some of our Tafuna kids were having a hard time being quiet. I went over and sat with them. I think God is helping me work on patience. They were focused on the songs and singing for a little bit after I went to sit with them, but they shortly lost interest during songs they did not already know. I think I was able to at least keep them a little quieter though for the adults to be able to enjoy their worship time. After church, some of us went up to a house belonging to a really neat couple and family. I can’t remember their names right now, but they own a delicious bakery on the island and are a very generous family. They fed us very tasty breads and donuts that they made. Wow! What a treat! It really was great. Then we were just sitting around one of the visiting areas in their house and someone began singing one song, and it didn’t take long for everyone to join in. Harmony and all. This song led to many many more. English and Samoan. I was able to get some recordings of great singing, and the neat thing about this was that it wasn’t even planned. We had only planned to have a time of fellowship! Those times seem to always be the best worship experiences! True worship. (But I must say, worship here hasn’t yet seemed dull. It’s really great.)

It has been raining so much recently. I absolutely love hearing the rain and smelling the freshness of it as I go to sleep at night. It sounds different here though because the majority of what I hear is the rain hitting all the plants around. I’m not used to the sound of rain hitting coconut leaves, banana leaves, and a ton of luscious grass. Beautiful sound! I am reminded every single time of how mighty our Father is. He is truly amazing, and has really been proving a lot to me through His nature. Samoa a wonderful place to see God’s natural beauty in the people and in the land and water and sky. Morning skies are beautiful, afternoon skies are beautiful, rainy skies are beautiful, sunsets, night skies. All the time! I am so amazed.

Well, I have written over 1,725 words and it is now 12:21 a.m. I really should get to bed. Tomorrow, there is no school, so the Willis’s and I will spend some time together at Manua Marketplace I think, Airport Beach…snorkeling, and the Chin (sp?) family will take us out for dinner. I’m not exactly sure, but I think we will be eating at a Korean food restaurant. I am very excited for a full day of fun tomorrow, but I really better get some sleep now. I am shocked that I was able to stay up this late! I guess I’m used to the time change now. Goodnight all!

Don’t forget to read Dean’s blogs too! He just posted one as well. www.deanwillis.blogspot.com

Alofa, Kristen.(Love, Kristen.)

Snorkel Practice

5 Commentsby   |  05.31.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

May 24, 2011 – 10:46 a.m.

Well, yesterday was my first go at snorkeling. It really wasn’t a place to snorkel, but we went to practice anyway. We did see some fish! I am still amazed at how beautiful the water is and how white the sand is. Going under the water with goggles on was absolutely amazing. It did not even seem like we were in a public beach! Absolutely beautiful! Dean was able to get a couple of great shots with the underwater digital camera Danna found. We were skeptical of it, but it really turned out great. It also takes video, so we’ll try that one next. Even though we were only in the water for about 20 minutes, the pull of the water was stronger than I’m used to, and Dean and I were both so exhausted afterwards. I came back for my daily nap. I’ve been taking long naps almost every day since we’ve gotten here, and I’ve been ready for bed by about 8:30 every night. Then of course I wake up at about 6:00 every morning. I think I’m still getting used to the time change.

Today we begin spending time with some of the church members again. We went to Carl’s Jr. last Tuesday for lunch and I think we’re going to KFC today. We will eat with David (preacher at Tafuna/Dean’s dad), Tia (elder of Tafuna), Bill (member of Tafuna/works with the youth at Tafuna), Lynn (elder of Tafuna/Dean’s uncle), and Jerry (member of Tafuna.) Actually, I was just reminded that Tia is in Western Samoa this week, so he will not be with us today. It is a great time of fellowship and conversation. Dean and I will also work a little bit on our VBS planning and planning for the Tweens and Sunday morning classes.

Dean is feeling pretty sick right now, so please keep him in your prayers. It seems to be a sinus infection. He’s really stopped up, feels achy and chills all over, and he has felt warm enough to have fever. We really want to stay as well as possible, but if it’s necessary to take a trip to the doctor, we will.

Thank you all for your wonderful support and prayers! We are very glad to have such a wonderful group of friends and family. God has blessed us so far on our trip, and it’s still only the beginning.

Thank you for reading. Don’t forget Dean’s blog @ www.deanwillis.blogspot.com.

Cover of the Weekend

6 Commentsby   |  05.30.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

May 23, 2011 – 7:10 a.m.

This past weekend was busy, but it is going to be what all our weekends are like. I loved it! Friday night high schoolers, Saturday afternoon Tweens, and Sunday morning children’s Bible class. Tweens and Bible class are the times Dean and I are planning absolutely everything and teaching everything. Tweens will be doing Armor of God throughout the summer and Bible classes will be doing Moses. The things we taught this last weekend went well, but we definitely have room to improve.

Some of the high school girls with their crowns on.

The Friday night high schoolers really enjoyed having us there. Most of them remembered Dean from when he lived here two years ago. Some of the girls wanted to be my Facebook friends, so I’m still working on that. I really am looking forward to our week of Teen camp that we will be leaders for.
Saturday was definitely an experience. It was a fun experience, but a little frustrating at times, great fun other times, really hot sometimes, and extremely tiring. This week I will be learning some phrases in Samoan, and I am sure they will respond better to those. Sometimes, some of the tweens would kind of listen to me when I’d say come sit down over here, but when did would say it in Samoan, they’d all come running over to plop down on the grass. I hope to know some phrases by the time we have our next Tween activity.

My favorite part of Saturday was probably the Minute to Win it game that we played. They were split up into teams and had to get 3 empty soda cans from one table into a pyramid on another table using a piece of spaghetti to transfer the cans. We started off with them holding the spaghetti in their hands and the can could not touch their hands and the spaghetti could not break. When we saw that they did that version well, we had them hold the spaghetti in their mouths. Just look at the pictures and you’ll understand.  We then did a little singing and Bible study about the Belt of Truth. Then each Tween made their own belt of truth. Each link has a true statement about God on it.

Minute to Win It game with the Tweens

The Tweens with their Belts of Truth on.

Sunday morning, I taught the little kiddos. I had ages 3 – 4th grade. I did have a translator for this one, Manda. She really was a huge help! The younger ones especially have a difficult time completely understanding directions in English. They all understand English, but it’s more difficult. Church was a wonderful experience. We sang songs in both English and Samoan, we prayed in Samoan usually, and then we had a sermon: David Willis preaching in English and Tia (one of the elders) translating in Samoan.

This weekend really was a pretty typical weekend of what we’ll be doing this summer. During this week we’ll do a lot of planning and going around the island. Today, Dean and I will go with David to run some errands. I’ll be able to see the hospital, something else, and Pago Pago Harbor…you can find pictures online via Google images, or you can just wait for me to post pictures. We will see Flower Pot which is a rock formation just off the coast. I think that is where we’ll actually be able to play in the water and practice snorkeling. I’m really excited about it! I think we’re also planning to go on a hike and play another game of golf this week. I also hope that Danna and I will be able to find a time to go get a “puletasi” made. (The traditional Samoan dress) Danna did give me a “lavalava.” Which is just a wraparound. Men and women wear it, and it is considered respectful to wrap your waist before seeing your elders. I’ll probably wear one today because I’ll be wearing my swim shorts underneath so we can swim at Flower Pot. I’ll have to take pictures so you can see what a “lavalava” looks like.
Well, I’m off to get ready for the day. Thank you all for reading! And make sure you read Dean’s blog at www.deanwillis.blogspot.com.

Too Tired to Write……..For Now

1 Commentby   |  05.30.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

May 22, 2011

I guess I’m just really still not used to the time difference or something. I’ve been ready for bed since like 4:00 today. The weather was nice today. We were only at work in the morning for church, so it really was a cool time of the day.

I wanted to write a blog covering Fri.-Sun. tonight, but I just think I need to go to bed. I will say one thing though. At night, every time I go back to my bedroom, I get scared by a toad that is in my path. There is one specific toad that comes into the hallway from the back door to try to get some of Molly’s food. It’s funny to most people, but I do hope to get to a point where I remember the toad will be there so it’ll stop scaring me.

Dean has blogged recently, so make sure you read his blog. I haven’t read it yet. I want to write my own, but I want to write it without knowing what Dean has written. I want my blog to be as much as the things I remember as possible. The things that stuck out to me. I will upload pictures when I post my blog, but if you have a Facebook, you might as well go ahead and look at some there. They’re pretty much the same ones.

Make sure you read Dean’s blog: www.deanwillis.blogspot.com Keep an eye out for mine. I really hope to write it tomorrow. After going to take pictures of Pago Pago Harbor and the Flower Pot. Dean and I will also “practice snorkeling” at Flower Pot. I’ve never snorkeled before, so I feel like I could use the practice before we actually go snorkeling.

Thank you for all your prayers. Please specifically pray that I can get on Samoa’s schedule: sleep and food. I thought I was fine, but I don’t seem to be. Thank you, readers.www.deanwillis.blogspot.com

Busy

12 Commentsby   |  05.30.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

May 20, 2011

Today, Dean and I spent the day at Danna’s classroom.  It was fantastic fun Friday, so we really did have a blast. My favorite part of going to Danna’s class is the fact that they call me Miss Kristen (sometimes Miss Christian) and they call Dean, Miss Dean. They don’t quite understand that men are Mr. and women are Miss.

We are about to tie-dye the prize bag that we will use Saturday afternoons with the Tweens. Tonight is our first youth event! I’m so excited! It sounds like it’ll be a devo style at the Nu’uli Church of Christ. It will be the youth group from Nu’uli Church of Christ and the youth group from our church, Tafuna Church of Christ. I’ll be able to upload pictures either tonight or tomorrow sometime. I do want to let you as readers know that when I refer to the youth group here in Samoa, it involves anyone from 7th grade – single adults (as in not married.)

I better go now so we can tie-dye so it has time to dry before tomorrow. www.deanwillis.blogspot.com

New Day

7 Commentsby   |  05.30.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

May 18, 2011 – 10:25 p.m. (Samoan time…4:25 a.m. Texas time…and I’m still adjusting)

Well, today was even more tiring than yesterday, and we really didn’t do much of anything physical. It really was rather a relaxing day. I woke up to rain last night, and then the electricity went out this morning which made for quite a sticky morning. We went to the school for a little bit to see Danna’s classroom and look around where Dean spent his time here. Then we went shopping to buy a couple things.

Wow! Things are SO expensive here! Like…2 or 3 times more expensive than in the states; however, there is no sales tax here. Imagine … gas is $4.52/gallon, toothpaste is $5.00, sunscreen is $12.00. It’s kinda crazy. I did have an unpleasant time right after lunch and shopping. I’m pretty sure I overheated because of the humidity that I’m not used to. I know that I’m complaining, but it really is taking me a bit for my body to get used to different environmental things here. I’ve been told that I will be fine by the weekend, I’ll be on a better sleep schedule, meal schedule, and hopefully the mosquitoes won’t be bothering me much anymore.

We ended the night with a great Bible study with some people from the church. David taught Romans 6 in one of the classrooms at the school. It was so neat to hear the members talk about Christianity and the meanings of baptism in the Samoan language.  Everyone there knew English, but there are just some concepts that need to be explained in the native language. I hope to know enough Samoan words by the end of the summer to at least understand the topic people around me are talking about. I can pick out some words when people speak them: “Atua” = God. “Iesu” = Jesus. “fa’amolemole” = please. And “fa’afetai” = thank you. After the Bible study, Dean found some geckos to take pictures of for my mom. I know she would love to be here with the snails, geckos, and giant toads! Dean is definitely more brave than I am when it comes to catching geckos and getting close enough to toads to take a great pictures. Way to go, Dean!

Today really was a wonderful day even though the humidity and sick feelings weren’t preferable. I look forward to tomorrow for sure! Dean and I will be Danna’s aid in class because her aid will be in Apia with the high schoolers. (Apia is in Western Samoa, a separate island) Dean and I will also be planning a little more in depth what we will teach the tweens on Saturday afternoon and the kiddos on Sunday morning.

I’ll keep you updated as much as possible. Thank you everyone who’s reading these and looking at my picture on facebook! I like knowing how much people care about me and what I am doing.

I’m going to bed for now. It is definitely time. Be sure to read www.deanwillis.blogspot.com

A Beautiful First Day

7 Commentsby   |  05.30.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

May 17, 2011

A Beautiful Samoan Sunrise! What a wonderful Birthday present from God. :)

Here's a picture of all the personless bags. I'll explain in the blog.

Well it is now 7:25 a.m., and my body is really confused. We arrived at the airport yesterday in Austin, TX at 4:30 a.m. and arrived at the airport in American Samoa last night at 11:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. for Texas). Of course our eating patterns were completely thrown off, and there was only one flight that fed us a meal. Obviously, yesterday was a LONG day! I am really looking forward to today because I will feel like there is actually a normal schedule again. I woke up this morning (5:15 because my body thought it was 11:15), watched the beautiful sunrise with Dean, went out to take some great nature shots (giant snails included), ate breakfast, and now I’m writing! Wonderful day so far…….oh yeah. And…..today is my birthday!!! What a wonderful beautiful place to spend a 21st birthday! It truly is beautiful here. All the picture I saw online (google pictures) really weren’t lying! J I’m trying to capture God’s beauty with my new camera, but I just can’t seem to do it. God is truly amazing!I do want to share some experiences from yesterday. (I’ll try to keep it short…but it probably won’t happen.) The flights were pretty normal really…until the very last leg. Standing in line to check-in our luggage was interesting. Dean and I were standing in line behind about 50 bags, but absolutely no people. The people were in the same room, but they trusted that no one would take anything. You FOR SURE wouldn’t see anything like that anywhere in the states. Pretty much everyone on the flight was returning home to American Samoa, so I got an introduction to the friendliness of the people here. I really could not tell who belonged with which family. I did my best while waiting in the gate to fit families and friends together, but I was continuously proved wrong and just got really confused. My mom and I love listening to conversations and watching people in places like airports to figure out who’s related to who and how. Well… I just was not able to do that here. It was definitely frustrating at times to here a conversation going on and not understand much at all. Dean did tell me that if people were talking, they probably weren’t talking about me, unless I heard the word ‘palagi,’ which is the word for ‘white people.’ I would know they were talking about me especially since I was the only obvious white person on the entire flight.

As soon as I walked out of the plane, Dean pointed out the Southern cross constellation…which of course I have never seen before. The next thing I realized was how extremely humid it is! I was warned, and they were of course right. After getting our luggage, I was welcomed by Dylan, David, and Danna (my host family/Dean’s family) with an ‘ula’ which is like a lei in Hawai’i. We drove home which is another thing Dean warned me about. The road was definitely bumpy and full of pot holes. Mosquitoes are another thing that are quite different here. I mean, I know there are mosquitoes in Texas, but when you see a mosquito in Texas, you follow it, kill it, and move on with life. When I got here, I saw a mosquito, followed it, saw five more around it, and moved on with life. J There is no use in killing only one. After calling my Mom to tell her I made it safely, I crawled into bed and fell asleep to the sounds of crickets, dogs, the wind in the trees, geckos, and maybe some toads? I’m not sure if that was part of the noise I heard. Needless to say, it was great to fall asleep to the breeze coming in through the windows and the sounds of nature.

Thank you thank you thank you everyone who prayed for the safety of our travels yesterday! Our only problems were getting to the airport 30 min. late in Austin and sitting on the plane in Hawai’i for an hour before we began our taxi to the runway. I am so thankful to have such wonderful friends and family to pray for me and encourage me. Be sure to check my facebook for pictures!
Also, read Dean’s blog: deanwillis.blogspot.com!